Imagine you have been captured by the most diabolical of James Bond villains. (I’m partial to Goldfinger, myself, but feel free to choose your favorite.) This is a Bond villain who has learned from the mistakes of past 007 adversaries; he is not going to place you in an overly-complicated and easily-escapable death trap. Instead he has devised something much more certain: he is going to put you in the box against Johan Santana. Get a hit, and you live. Fail, and it’s to the genetically-mutated sea bass for you. For just such an eventuality, we here at Gameday are proud to bring you the Johan Santana Survival Guide. By following these simple instructions, you can dramatically increase your chances for success. Good luck.
1. Face him in May
Johan’s slow starts are not a secret, and the numbers back them up. May has been Johan’s worst month statistically; his .257/.308/.446 allowed are all worst among months. March and April are also acceptable choices, but whatever you do, avoid him from June onward; he is especially deadly.
2. Green Monsters are your friend
Fenway Park has been unkind to Santana thus far in his career, and you should exploit this weakness whenever possible. His .328/.387/.469 opposing line in Fenway ranks as Johan’s toughest environment. If Fenway is temporarily unavailable, Camden Yards and the Rogers Centre are acceptable substitutes; however, avoid at all costs the Rangers’ Ballpark In Arlington, where Santana has a career line of .215/.283/.405
3. Use the twilight hours to your advantage
While Johan has allowed identical .278 OBPs in day and night games over his career, the opponent’s BA rises from .210 to .225 as the sun goes down. He also appears to be slightly more vulnerable on grass than on artificial turf, but the difference is so minute that you are better off seeking more substantial ways to gain an advantage.
4. Catch him on short rest
While opportunities to pounce on Santana on three days’ rest have been few and far between, his .231/.331/.454 line without the extra day of recovery is a marked improvement in your chances when compared to four days rest.
5. Attack early
The more pitches you see from Santana, the smaller your chances become. Your odds dramatically increase if you make contact within the first three pitches you see; however, care must be taken, for he is deadly and nearly unhittable with two strikes. When you pull the trigger early in your at-bat, make sure you don’t miss.
The challenge before you is great; it is for this reason that you must take every opportunity to better your chances. Even if you faithfully follow the above advice, the odds are against you. We wish you the best of luck, and may your evil adversaries be less ingenious in the future.
Split stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.